Sunday, July 9, 2017

Commentary on Pakistan's Role in Afghanistan

Pakistan has been in the news the past few weeks. Afghanistan conflict observers are noting the 4,000 increase in U.S. personnel and a few more thousand from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the strategy review being undertaken by the U.S. Department of Defense (with a little help from the White House?). A question many raise is what will be the outcome of this increase in troop levels. Certainly it will help in the train, advise, and assist effort and in an incremental fashion raise the effectiveness of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) . . . but . . .

The primary factors of the Taliban's effectiveness against the ANDSF is not the lack of advisors. It has more to do with a corrupt and ineffective Afghan government (at all levels), security institutions with inept and corrupt senior leadership, and insurgents with support from and sanctuary in Pakistan. Many observers look to this last point (Pakistan) as the primary factor in the continuance of this long conflict. Listed below is some recent analysis and commentary on the Pakistan issue from the past week.

"Pakistan's Proxy Strategy". Daniel Markey - Academic Director, Global Policy Program at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies - provides his perspective in "Pakistan's Proxy Strategy Principal Cause of Mistrust for U.S.", The Cipher Brief, July 6, 2017.

Pakistan - Key to Winning in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban leadership lives in the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar. Financial incentives from the United States to Pakistan have done little to change Pakistan's support of the Taliban. The incentive-based approach is not working. Read more in an article by Husain Haqqani, director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington. He was also Pakistan's ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011. "To Win Afghanistan, Get Tough on Pakistan"The New York Times, July 6, 2017.

One-Time Ally. Pakistan, at one time, was a key ally in the fight against the Soviet occupation and later - after 9/11 - in the fight against terrorism. But . . . the times have changed. Amid accusations that Pakistan is supporting the Taliban the country is moving closer to China and Russia. Read more in "Once a US ally, Pakistan Now Looks to China, Russia", Voice of America, July 8, 2017.

Pakistan as a Counter-Terrorist Ally? Hmmmm. Bennett Seftel writes about the misgivings Afghan War observers have about Pakistan. Read more in "Murky U.S.-Pakistan Relationship Defined by Afghan War"The Cipher Brief, July 6, 2017.

Pakistan - Not an Ally. Robert Cassidy, a retired U.S. Army officer with four tours in Afghanistan, provides his perspective of the Afghan conflict. Pakistan comes under his scrutiny in this article. Read "DoD Report: Pakistan is Reason for Afghanistan Stalemate"Real Clear Defense, July 3,2017.

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